Eniola AKinkuotu, Abuja
Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), has advised President Muhammadu Buhari to insist on the independence of Western Sahara during his visit to Morocco.
Falana said in a statement on Sunday that in view of Article 20 (1) of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights which provides that the peoples of Africa shall have the unquestionable and inalienable right to self-determination, “Nigeria is under a “legal duty to support the struggle of the colonised people of Western Sahara for political independence from the Kingdom of Morocco.”
The senior advocate recalled that in 1984, the military government headed by Buhari supported the legitimate demand of the colonised people of Western Sahara to self-determination by ensuring that the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic was admitted to the African Union.
Morocco subsequently pulled out of the AU in protest.
He said the decision of Nigeria to champion the legitimate cause of the Saharawi people was informed by several resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly and the 1975 ruling of the International Court of Justice which held that the Kingdom of Morocco does not encompass Western Sahara.
“But in a demonstration of foreign policy somersault, the Buhari administration did not oppose the request of the Kingdom of Morocco to join the African Union,” Falana said.
He said since then the Kingdom of Morocco has been mounting pressure on member states of the AU to support her illegal occupation of the territory of Western Sahara.
“As if that is not enough, the Kingdom of Morocco has been disrupting meetings of some AU committees by insisting that the accredited representatives of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic be prevented to participate in such meetings,” he added.
Falana said Buhari’s attention should be drawn to the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights and the High Court in South Africa which have ruled that the Kingdom of Morocco is not competent to exploit any of the vast natural resources in Western Sahara as they belong to the Saharawi people.
“Therefore, the Federal Government should not enter into any bilateral agreement with the Kingdom of Morocco for the exploitation of the resources in the occupied territory. Otherwise, such agreement will be annulled and set aside by a court of competent jurisdiction,” he said.